The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) calls for more consistent travel rules and COVID-19 advice by European countries to counter confusion by travelers and holiday makers.
Those journeying to Europe for the first time since travel restrictions began to ease face a baffling array of different types of travel rules and advice. And this is delaying the recovery of the travel industry.
The uneven patchwork of COVID-19 national border restrictions and rules across the Schengen zone is an obvious deterrent to cross-border movement.
Unnecessary and inconsistent border constraints are deterring travelers and suppressing the resurgence of travel and Tourism. The sector’s return is urgently needed to regenerate destinations and act as a catalyst for the global economic recovery.
WTTC research shows that every 2.7% increase in travelers would generate or recover one million jobs in the sector. Governments working with the right coordinated measures could stimulate an increase in travel by as much as 27%. As a result, recreating a massive 10 million jobs in travel and tourism.
Travel rules cause confusion
Consumer confusion over travel rules such as the wearing of face masks is evident. It is mandatory on public transport in some countries, such as France and Germany. But it is not in others such as Norway and Sweden. Meanwhile in Italy, masks are mandatory in all enclosed public places. In Switzerland, for all enclosed public spaces other than on public transport, it is only a recommendation. People should wear masks if they can’t maintain a distance of 1.5 meters from others.
Medical advice, including from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health is clear that the use of face masks helps reduce the risk of transmission up to 90%. It protects the user and those around them, as well as reintroducing a greater sense of normality for travelers.
Harmonization of travel rules
However, WTTC warns that unless European governments make a greater effort to align their policies it will cause the fragile recovery to stutter and slowdown. This means putting 16 million jobs in travel and tourism at risk.
“WTTC calls on all European heads of state to unite for the benefit of the millions of people who depend on this sector in Europe. Both travelers and workers,” Gloria Guevara, WTTC President and CEO says.
“It is urgent that governments learn from the past and take quick and effective action to coordinate and harmonize travel rules and border requirements to bring consistency for everyone across Europe. Previous crises, including the 2008 financial crash, shows where governments coordinate to align policies, their leadership resulted in a quicker recovery”, she adds.
“We are encouraged to see that more travelers are spending time searching for holiday destinations across Europe. Unfortunately, the lack of coordination among countries has created inconsistencies. This means we are failing to rebuild the trust of potential travelers. Anyone traveling from one European country to the next faces a bewildering difference in travel advice. Covering masks, testing and contact tracing which could seriously hinder the return of the travel and tourism sectorGloria Guevara, WTTC President and CEO
Travel and tourism: 9.1% of Europe’s GDP
WTTC says governments need take into consideration more than just mortality rates. Infection rates, the percentage of tests and contact tracing are also important. Same goes for the health system’s ability to cope with COVID-19 and the public’s acceptance of mask-wearing. Observance of social distancing is also important.
The travel and tourism sector contributes a massive 9.1% of Europe’s GDP (US$2,018.2 billion). Last year, according to the WTTC Travel & Tourism Economic Impact Report 2020, the sector was responsible for 37.1 million jobs. This is 9.7% of Europe’s total employment number.
The welfare of travelers and the millions of people working across the travel and tourism sector is central to WTTC Safe Travels protocols, which are backed by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and thousands of businesses around the world.